Want to eat healthy for the New Year? Forget about fad diets, and instead choose moderation, says registered and licensed dietitian and nutritionist Amy Goldsmith. Goldsmith, owner of Kindred Nutrition in Frederick, recommends setting realistic, achievable goals for dietary change.
In order to be healthy, Goldsmith advises people to eat whole foods — foods that appear in their most pure form such as fresh produce, whole grains, meat and fish. “I am a firm believer in trying to get most of your vitamins and minerals from whole foods rather than a multi-vitamin,” she said.
Goldsmith also suggests eating five vegetables and fruits every day. These foods are low in calories and provide hydration and dietary fiber, she said. “Most Americans are deficient in fiber,” she said.
Urbana resident Trixi Summers said that she recently changed her diet to include more green vegetables and fruits. “I think that colorful foods have the most nutrition and are good for you,” she said. Summers also stopped eating fast food.
Summers decided to start eating healthily when her mother, who has dementia, needed to go to the hospital. “She always refused to do exercise or eat right,” said Summers, who believes that these choices contributed to her mother’s medical condition. She said she didn’t want to have the same experience as her mother.
Once she made the decision to eat healthier, changing her diet was easy, said Summers. “It’s making the decision that’s hard,” she said.
In contrast to trends in dietary advice recommending reducing carbohydrate intake, Goldsmith urges caution in reducing food with carbohydrates while dieting. “Carbohydrates are our primary source of fuel,” she said. “Everyone needs a certain amount of carbohydrates.” She recommends having foods with carbohydrates such as rice and pasta at each meal.
According to Goldsmith, it is okay to indulge once in a while, in moderation. For example, after having a couple cookies at a party, an individual could modify his or her diet the next day to make up for the calories. Goldsmith added that “fats aren’t necessarily all bad.” We need some fat in our diet, she said. Restrictions in a diet can also make us want food more.
Although Goldsmith does not like to label foods as “good” or “bad,” she avoids food with dyes, as well as genetically modified foods. She also tries to buy food that is closest to the whole form.
“I try to purchase foods where I [can] pronounce and read the ingredient list. The shorter the list the better,” she said.
While juicing fruits and vegetables is a way to eat more of these healthy foods, the process significantly reduces the amount of fiber from the produce. Fiber is a necessary component of our diet, she said and added, “The problem with juicing is that you are not having the coordination of the protein, carbohydrates and the fat that you really need at each meal.”
In order to eat healthy while dining out, Goldsmith said that it is best to eat food that is baked, broiled or roasted, instead of fried. “The number one thing that you can do in my opinion when you’re eating out at restaurants is immediately decide that you’re going to eat half of a portion,” she said. Two people can also share an entrée and get a side salad. The extra cost for sharing an entrée is worth removing the additional calories, she added.
When in a restaurant, Goldsmith also recommended asking the server questions about menu items. “People are afraid to ask about the menu and how things are cooked,” she said.
In order to encourage children to eat healthily, it is important to be a good role model, Goldsmith said. “The best thing to do as parents is to eat the way that you want your kids to eat,” she said. “If you want your kids to eat fruits and vegetables, serve [them] and let them watch you eat [them]” she said.
For people who are eating healthily on a tight budget, Goldsmith recommends buying in bulk and uses alternative ways of getting food such as gardening, shopping at farmer’s markets, and becoming a member of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscription farm. She said that meal planning is very important. By purchasing the food that you need and cooking it as you need it, you can eliminate waste.
To lose weight, Goldsmith recommends that people reduce their calorie intake by 3,500 calories to lose one pound each week. She also suggests that people keep a food record to see how much they are eating in a day and use this information to modify their diets.
Changing our diets can be difficult at first, said Goldsmith, but after people modify their dietary behavior for four to six weeks, eating healthier gets easier. She suggests giving ourselves time to adjust to a new diet. Goldsmith said, “The results are worth it.”
Winter Vegetable Soup with Pesto Crouton
Minda Metz, owner of the The Buzz in Monrovia, offered this healthy recipe to readers for the holidays.
4 T light olive oil
4 shallots or one large Vidalia onion, diced
1 head fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced in julienne
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 carrots, peeled and thin cut on the diagonal
5 celery stalks, thin cut on the diagonal
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 T dried Italian spice mix (McCormick’s)
2 cups trimmed cauliflower florets
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced summer squash
1 cup broccoli florets
2 cups trimmed baby green beans cut once on the diagonal
1 cup peeled and cubed butternut squash
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups diced canned tomato (Cento) with half of the juice
Freshly ground cracked black pepper
In a large heavy pot warm the oil on medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic and fennel and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and dried seasoning, stirring for 1 minute.
Add the carrots, celery, zucchini, summer squash, cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash and green beans and saute for approximately two minutes.
Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Season with salt and pepper.
Dress it up — top with a crisp crouton slathered with basil pesto.
Most vegetables can be substituted or interchanged. For extra protein, add garbanzo beans or cannellini beans.